Is there ONE thing that your kids need more than anything else? Okay, other than Jesus. Yes, I believe that all kids need Jesus. You do, too. But, outside of a relationship with Christ, what else does your child need in order to succeed in life?
In a word: RESOURCEFULNESS
When my oldest daughter got her driver’s license, that was my cue to stop taking my kids school shopping. (It wasn’t like that task was on my top 10 exciting tasks of the year.) At that point I realized that I had three smart kids that could do basic math and one of those kids could drive the other two. So, I tossed my oldest daughter my debit card and wished my little Roosters success on their school shopping mission.
As I stood in the door and watch them drive away, not knowing if they would do it right or if they would screw it up. I just knew that they needed to do this on their own.
Did they shop differently than I would have? Yep. But, that’s okay. They loved the freedom to make their own decisions and they gained confidence in accomplishing something really important.
Years later, my girls are used to school shopping on their own. In fact, my youngest daughter shopped by herself with confidence because she’s been doing it for years. Pretty cool.
Many years ago, I was a helicopter parent. I wanted my girls to be well-prepared and well-protected in this crazy, tricky world. I figured that since I could see danger or difficulty miles down the road, it was my job to steer my kids away from any and all bad decisions, mishaps and mistakes. That’s what good mamas do, right?
Then, one day I envisioned myself as a 70-year old woman with three 40-50 year old daughters asking me if they should pack peanut butter or turkey sandwiches for lunch. At that point, I realized it was time for a change. I had to land that helicopter on the ground and get out! It took a few years (and some professional therapy) to let go of my helicopter-mama ways. It was a struggle – but my girls’ lives depended on it!
My daughters needed to develop resourcefulness and it could only be developed if their well-meaning mama wasn’t getting in the way. Simply put, resourcefulness is the ability to “figure it out.”
How young is too young to start learning…
At today’s Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels shared how his father dropped him off 30+ miles away from a certain destination instructions to finish the journey. Bill was given two pieces of advice: “Figure it out” and “Don’t call me.”
He was 11 years old at the time.
(Okay, that might be shade too young.)
Here are a few ideas to help your school-aged kids develop resourcefulness:
1. Let them “practice” their way to proficiency…If we ever want our kids to get good at something, then we need to let them be bad at it and give them the blessed opportunity to get better.
For a long time, I didn’t want to put up with the hassle of not-so-great-dinners cooked by the kids. Yet, cooking is an important life skill. Therefore, I need to give the girls a chance to do it and practice their way from crispy nightmare to culinary delight. It takes time and patience on our end at the beginning, but the payoff for our kids lasts a lifetime!
By the way, cooking is a great exercise to build start your kids toward resourcefulness. Recipes and measurements can be tricky, so kids can get practice learning how to balance time management and problem-solve.
2. Let kids experience the “natural” consequences of their behavior…Failure is a great teaching tool for resourcefulness. If they forget, oversleep, procrastinate, break, lose or generally mess up, let your kids dig themselves out of the hole. Let them figure out how to raise the funds, repair the damage, make the apology – don’t be too quick to step in and smooth things over.
Avoid fixing your kid’s mistakes to maintain your image. That’s just asking for your kids to be dependent on you in the future. Coach your kids, don’t allow them coast.
Here’s a question that you might ponder: “Am I shaping my kid’s heart and mind or just trying to make my life easier?”
3. Refuse to be your kids’ Google…If your kids have questions about where things are located, how much things cost or how to spell something, don’t tell them. Can they read? Good! Then they can pull out whatever electronic device is in their pocket and figure out the answer. Will they whine? Yes. Will they fake helplessness? You bet. Ignore them and smile because you’re doing them a favor.
Find out more about the 2015 Leadership Summit at willowcreek.com. If you attend CedarCreek Church, check out CedarCreek.tv/summit for special pricing.